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Homemaking Update: August 2020

Blogging has really changed a lot over the years. I used to write a blog post several times a week if not daily. Years ago a blog post was nothing fancy; it was just an online record of what you were up to or what you were thinking about.

As things have become more and more complicated in the world of online content creation, I thought it would be a breath of fresh air just to write an old fashioned blog post with a life update.

So here I go with an update about what  I did in August:

Continued working in my garden.
I've been bringing in several varieties of beans each day, along with some cherry tomatoes that are still producing. I also cleaned out plants that were finished and replanted some fall crops.

 

I finished 3 books in August:

1. Elizabeth Prentiss: More Love to Thee

 

 

My review on Goodreads:

I was afraid the biographer was going to insert her own theological opinions into the book, but in the end I was pretty pleased with how well she stuck to only the factual elements of Elizabeth Prentiss' life. The book was put together in a very logical and concise order, giving a good overview of Elizabeth's life, including family, friendships, struggles she faced as a mother, uncertainty of the future, and her spiritual ponderings. Though she lived many years ago, her life was not terribly different from any woman's today – we all find joy and sorrow, delight and frustration in many of the same things. For that reason I found it a fascinating read.

 

2. Cozy Minimalist Home


I've seen this book recommended several places, so since I happen to be in the process of updating my living room I took a quick skim through the book. I resonated with everything this author said, and learned a couple tips along the way.

Favorite quotes:

“I like pretty things, but not so much that they're allowed to make my life more complicated.”

“You're not a Stuff Manager, you're a Home Curator.”

I read this book using the Scribd app on my phone. I did a free Scribd trial three years ago, and I have kept my subscription ever since. It is one of the very few “extras” I splurge on, and it is worth every penny! Nearly every book I see recommended is on there, and I can read anything I desire without cluttering my home with more books. (Use my link here for a free 60 day trial. Normally the free trial is only 30 days, but you get an extra month using my link. Cancelling is super easy if you decide it's not for you.)

 

3. Unseen: The Gift of Being Hidden in a World that Loves to Be Noticed


My review on Goodreads:

“I just finished this book, and I want to turn right back around and read it again! This book pointed my thoughts to my Father so persistently. There is nothing so fulfilling, so life-giving as to “waste time” with Him.”

Favorite quotes:

“Too often we settle for lesser things. It seems easier to get a like online than it does to get quiet before God, to seek His face and listen for His whispers.”

“There are two stories in every person – the visible story and the invisible story.”

“The moments that the world doesn't witness are always his to see.”

“Hiddenness is God's way of helping us with this holy detachment, slowly releasing our clutch on the things of the earth which we were never intended to grip.”

I listened to the audio version of this book using my Scribd app. (Use this link for a 60 day free trial.)

If you prefer a hard copy, Book Outlet currently has this book for less than half what it costs on Amazon. You'll just have to check; it's always hit or miss what Book Outlet has in stock. (Create your account using this link and you'll get a credit for $10 off your first order of $25+.)


Here's a fantastic article I read and shared to Facebook recently:

A Letter to Wives Who Are Wondering: Is it Abuse?

I have a heart for women who are hurting in their marriage, whether that is because of misunderstandings and miscommunication or because of abuse or betrayal. If you need additional resources, feel free to reach out to me in an email (imperfecthomemaker@gmail.com.)

 

Meat and produce delivered to my door:

I continued to receive produce boxes from Misfits Market (although I reduced the frequency at which I received them since I was also bringing in produce from the garden.) If you haven't seen my thorough review of Misfits Market produce boxes, you can read it here.

 

I also got another huge box of grassfed/pasture raised meat from ButcherBox. I wrote a step by step plan here for how to get the best deal on a ButcherBox subscription.

 

 

What God has been teaching me this month:

A common theme has emerged this month in my personal Bible study, during worship with other believers, and through things I read and listen to. The theme has been to trust God to write the story of my days. Even when I do not understand the big picture, I can trust that He does, and that He is working all things together for good.

So when we lose our only (expensive) key to the van, I can trust that he knows why it disappeared into thin air and why we needed to purchase another.

When our washing machine breaks and the easy fix my husband thought it would be turns out not to be so easy, I can trust God even when it feels like we're wasting a lot of time and money.

God's ways won't always make sense to me because I don't know the bigger story. Faith is being okay with not knowing. It's being satisfied with knowing that God knows what He's doing.

 

 

And now looking forward to September, here are a few of the things I hope to accomplish:

Drinking more water

I feel I have been chronically dehydrated lately, and I really want to focus on getting in a good 64 oz. of water each day to see if it improves my energy and focus.

Trying a new clothing subscription

I have used StitchFix for several years, and still like it a lot. Now I'm trying a new service called Wantable. I really enjoy having clothing that helps me feel put together, and using a styling service saves me a lot of time shopping. I thought maybe with trying something besides StitchFix it might add to the variety of my wardrobe a bit. (Want to give it a try? Here's my referral link.)

 

Plan to Read:
Is it Abuse? by Darby Strickland.

As a domestic abuse advocate, I am always previewing books that I think will be helpful for both victims and for those who want to help a friend or loved one who may be a victim.  You can pre-order a copy of this book here.
(Get a $5 off coupon if you go through this link first..)

 

I'm hoping to do a little freezer cooking this month.

I've been putting all my extra time and energy into the garden this summer, so I'm excited to get back into freezer cooking a bit.


Sourdough starter?

This one is a maybe. It's something I've been wanting to do for a long time, but there are only so many hours in the day. I'm hoping I can fit this in!

 

Well that was fun! If you want to see even more, you can follow me on Instagram. Thanks for following along!

My Word for 2020

I've known for a couple months now what my focus word for 2020 would be, and I've already been putting it into practice.

 

The word the Lord has laid on my heart is: FINISH

 

Here are just a few of the reasons behind that choice:

1. I need to finish what I've started, even when I have setbacks that discourage me.

Living with chronic illness means that I never know what kind of day I'll have. I can have the most amazing day, and then out of the blue I will completely crash.
Every time I crash, I completely lose any momentum on whatever projects I've been doing. All I can do is sleep and wait. I wait because I know that more good days are always right around the corner. But when I am ready to get back out of bed and get back to work I have to start all over. It can be discouraging to try to accomplish something only to be completely derailed before I can complete it. I start things with a lot of excitement, but then lose my passion when I am interrupted by bad days. Not only do I lose the time I spend in bed, but I lose additional time catching up on backed up laundry, dishes, etc. and it might be a couple more days before I have regained the ground I lost. Doing this over and over for years on end can be discouraging, but I have allowed that to make me give up too easily. When I'm feeling well and I get the itch for another project, I start something fresh instead of finishing what I've already started. The thought of finding my place and getting in that groove all over again feels daunting, so I ignore it and start something new instead.
The result is that I have thousands of words written that have never been formatted and published. I have products that are nearly finished but are not serving anyone because they are languishing in files on my computer. I have all manner of things that could bless others that are not doing so because I have not found the gumption to dig back into them, figure out where I am, and finish them!

It's pretty obvious that the word “FINISH” in this instance means for me to literally finish the projects I have started before I begin new ones!

 

 

2. I need to be consistent in my everyday tasks instead of giving up when I run into obstacles.

 

Another related thing I have struggled with is consistency in many areas of my life. Again, gaining momentum on new habits only to be derailed over and over again can be very discouraging. It feels easier to give up altogether than to start over time after time.

But I finally realized that it's not starting over. It is being consistent to jump right back in and continue when I'm able to. It is good to make a habit of going right back to my baseline any day that I can.

So the word “FINISH” is basically a reminder that says, “Don't give up!”

 

3. I need to move my body in healthy ways.

Another area that I want to be better at is exercising, getting outside every day, and just giving my body some gentle movement every day. Without going into too much detail or making excuses, I do have a condition that will make me completely crash if I exercise too much. But I do need to give my body gentle movement, and get fresh air and sunshine.

In this case, the word “FINISH” reminds me of the finish line of a race. I will definitely not make it to the finish line if I do not get up and move!

 

4.  I want to be faithful to the Lord, no matter my circumstances.

Paul said in II Timothy 4:7-8 “I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing.”

So the word “FINISH” is just a daily reminder to keep walking with the Lord day after day. In the big things, in the little things, when it's difficult, and when it's easy, I just want to keep being faithful to the Lord.

 

I'm thankful for the Lord's strength on the hard days. I'm thankful he has directed me to resources that have improved my health greatly over the past couple years. I'm thankful that one day we will all receive new bodies. I'm thankful that in general I have more energy that I had 10 years ago. I'm thankful that when I get hit with bad days they have been passing more quickly than they used to. But that means I need to learn new life strategies. I'm hoping the survival years are behind me (only the Lord knows for sure what is in store for me.) But for now it is time to put my survival strategies behind me and learn new strategies that will help me to FINISH what the Lord wants me to accomplish with my life.

 

One project I did finish within the past couple months is a brand new workbook where I'm sharing simple strategies to help you overcome the frustrations in your day. It's called 7 Days to Calm.

Inside you'll learn how to create routines that work for you, and you'll also learn how to stick with your routines.

This workbook launches in February, so be sure to use the box below to subscribe to updates so I can notify you!

 

How to Start a Blog

If you want to make money blogging, you will need to have a blog!

I know how overwhelming it feels when you are first starting out, so I’ve created this step-by-step guide to setting up your own blog.

Just follow each step exactly as it’s written, and you will be blogging on your very own website in no time!  (Disclosure: this post contains affiliate links)

1. Choose your blog topic.

Some questions you will want to ask yourself as you choose your topic:

  • Do I know a lot about this topic?
  • Do I enjoy this topic — enough that I could write about it on a regular basis?

 

2. Choose your blog’s name.

Make sure that the name you choose for your blog is something people can easily remember.  If you blog about home decor, you don’t want to name your blog Musings of a Mom.  Make your blog’s name reflect something about home decor.

You’ll also need to check to see whether the domain name you want is available.  Your domain name is sort of like your blog’s address.  It’s where people will find you on the web.

Some other things to consider when choosing a domain name:

  • Use a .com address instead of .org .me , etc.  Using other variations besides .com will make it difficult for people to remember your address and find you online.
  • Make sure your address is easy to spell.  You don’t want people not to be able to find you online because they can’t spell your web address properly.  Typing it out before you settle on something will help you see what it look like to people.
  • Don’t use hyphens in your domain name.  Try telling someone you blog at “My hypen cool hyphen blog” and you’ll see why.
  • Consider life changes.  I know some bloggers who blog about toddler activities, but what about when their kids are older?  What will they blog about then?  Make your blog’s theme and name something that can easily grow and morph over the years.

Sometimes someone is already using the domain name you want, so you’ll need to go back to the drawing board.  You can use the domain name checker below to find out if the domain name you want is available.

You’ll also want to check Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, etc. to make sure the social media profiles matching your blog’s name are available.

 

3. Set up your blog.

If you want to make money blogging, I highly recommend starting a self-hosted WordPress blog.  You will pay a small monthly fee for someone to host your blog (this is sort of like renting your space on the internet.)  You could start a blog on a free platform, but all of the free platforms have severe limitations when it comes to earning money.  You may not be allowed to place ads or use affiliate links or set up a shop with your own products.  If you are serious about making money blogging, your best bet is to set up a self-hosted WordPress blog.

There are lots of hosting companies online, all with different pros and cons.  For someone just starting out, Bluehost is your cheapest bet and should work just fine for what you need.  I started with a budget hosting company and moved to Black Chicken host once my blog grew larger and I needed something more robust.

If technical terms feel scary to you, Bluehost will walk you through the entire process.

  • Choose your plan.  Plus or Prime are the best (Prime has domain privacy, which is important if you don’t want people to be able to find your private information via your blog.)
  • Enter your domain name.  You can enter this now or later.  If you purchased a domain somewhere else, you’ll enter it on the right side.
  • On the next page you will enter your account information.
  • Next you’ll choose the plan you want.  You can skip pretty much all of the add-ons they will try to sell you.
  • Enter your billing info
  • Choose a password

After you’ve purchased your hosting plan, you can log in and get started right away with WordPress!

Don’t be alarmed if you don’t see your domain name showing up right away.  It takes anywhere from 2 to 24 hours for your domain to populate on the internet.

But you can go ahead and play around and explore some of the features of your WordPress blog before you go to the next step.  (I do not recommend choosing one of the free themes that Bluehost shows you.  More on that in the next step.)

Click the “Start building” button to go to your WordPress blog.  I recommend clicking “I don’t need help.”  This way you are not given a bunch of options that you don’t need or want and then have to go back and undo.

 

4. Choose your WordPress theme.

You can start by using the free theme that is automatically installed.  However, you will no doubt want to change it to something more eye-appealing.

I do not recommend using free themes, either those recommended by Bluehost or others from around the web.  The reason for that is they are not updated frequently and therefor not secure from hackers.  You don’t want a blog that is vulnerable to hackers or that will stop working because the features have not been updated.

I highly, HIGHLY recommend Thrive Themes.  I use them for all of my blogs, including this one.

Some reasons I love Thrive Themes so much are:

  1. Easy to customize – just drag and drop.  No technical skills required!
  2. Optimized for search engines
  3. Lightweight.  Thrive themes comes with a lot of features that you would have to piece together with other themes.  Because just about everything you need is already included, you won’t need to bog down your site speed by adding sharing plugins, etc.
  4. Thrive Themes offers an entire suite of products that you can use for various aspects of your blogging, such as building your email list and selling products.  When you are ready to add on more advanced features to your blog, the other Thrive products will integrate perfectly with your theme.

Go here to see all Thrive Themes.

 

5. Change your blog permalinks

In the “settings” column, select “permalinks.”  You’ll want to set your permalinks to this structure: https://amylynnandrews.com/%postname%/.  This way the links to your blog posts will be very clean and won’t contain dates which could make your older content seem outdated.  You want your content to be well-loved whether it’s 2 days or 2 years after you wrote it.  (If you have already been blogging and did not set your permalinks this way, do not change them now.  It will break all the links to any posts you have written thus far!)

 

6. Set up https on your domain.

You should receive an email with instructions for activating your domain.  Once your domain is activated, you can switch from http to https.  A domain starting with https means it is secure for people who will be making purchases.  Also, Google is ranking sites lower in the search engines that do not have a security certificate, so it’s important for you to have one if you want to be found in searches.

  • Log into your Bluehost account, then click on “My sites” in the left column.  Click “Manage site”, then click on “security”.  Find the switch that says “Free SSL certificate” and turn it to On.

 

7. Begin to blog!

You are now ready to begin publishing blog posts.  Any time you want to log in to your WordPress dashboard just type in “yoursitename.com/wp-admin” and it will pull up the link for you to log in.  If you don’t remember your login, look for the welcome emails sent to you by Bluehost.  One will have login info for Bluehost and one will have login info for WordPress.

 

Want ideas for making money with your blog? Download my free Quick Start Guide here (no email address required!)

Menu Planning is Easy with Build a Menu

Have you heard about the new feature from Build a Menu?
 Pre-made menus in your inbox

 I have always loved using Build a Menu because it gives me the freedom to pick and choose what meals I want to make as it simultaneously creates my shopping list and estimated grocery total for the store of my choice. (ALDI included!) (You can see how it works in detail if you'd like.)

But they've added a new feature that I really like too - the DONE FOR YOU meal plans -- and for a limited time they are FREE when you buy the original menu planning service (reg. $30!)

So, what you get is:
  1. Access to the classic menu planner as I described above, where you can pick and choose which meals you want to make. There are options for every kind of diet needs (Trim Healthy Mama, Gluten Free, Paleo, Normal People :), etc. )
  2. Pre-made menus delivered to your inbox each week. If you happen to be disorganized one week and don't log in to create your own meal plan, you've automatically got a pre-made menu arriving as a a back-up! AWESOME!

Find out more. or Buy the classic plan now for $40, get the done for you plan FREE! (This is for a full YEAR's worth of menus!)

This sale is only going for a few more days. After that the service goes back up to full price and the Done For You plans are NOT included.

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Conquer Your Clutter and Organize Your Life

Are you tired of wasting precious time shuffling papers and looking for your missing shoe, or your vanishing purse? You dream of short-cuts to make your life more organized, but is it possible?     Maybe you’ve tried to get more organized before, and failed. Or thought you found the perfect system, only to have it not work for you at all. You’re not alone. I know what it’s like to feel that getting organized shouldn’t be so hard, and the answer definitely isn’t to keep wasting money on more storage containers or pricey planners, either! But what if you could learn from a group of organizing gurus all at once — regular people who’ve found practical solutions to their everyday struggles, and want to share their best tips and tactics with you in all the areas you find most challenging? Because when you have the right info and tools at your fingertips, it’s so much easier. You know which papers to keep (and which should immediately be thrown away). You’re more confident in saying no to the things on your calendar that don’t matter (and yes to the things that do). You start learning the difference between what you really need and what will just add to the clutter to your home. You feel less stressed (and you’ll probably enjoy life more, too).   conquer your clutter bundle     That’s why Stephanie and her team have put together the Conquer Your Clutter Super Bundle for the very first time. Their customers have been begging for help with streamlining their lives. The answer was this super-short opportunity to get a complete collection of organizational resources for a crazy low price. You sort of need to see it to believe it, but the package includes 38 digital products on topics like how to organize your photos, decluttering, family systems, meal planning, time management, and much more. All together, it’s worth over $650! Plus, it comes with two brilliant bonus offers worth over $40:
    • SaneBox – An exclusive credit to save you 12 hours per month ($20 value)
    • YNAB – A FREE four month trial to the popular budgeting software ($20 value)
Besides being so incredibly helpful and inspiring, one of the things I like best about the bundle is the price. By offering the bundle for a short time only, they’re able to give you access to over $650 worth of amazing products for a whopping 95% off! Here’s how it works:
      1. Visit their website, take a quick look at all the goodness that comes in this Super Bundle, then click “Get my copy now!” to go through their simple 3-step checkout process.
      2. You’ll receive an email with a login to their online access portal, where you’ll begin downloading your eBooks, signing up for your eCourses, printing out planners, and redeeming your free bonus products.
      3. Use their Getting Started Guide to pick the area you want to tackle first and start getting organized!
The most important detail, though, is that this bundle is available for just 6 days! After Monday night, January 30th, the sale ends and you’d have to buy all of these products individually. I’d hate for you to miss out, so click HERE to learn more or buy the bundle. It’s even backed by a full money-back happiness guarantee, so you can know for sure that it’s right for you.   By finding systems and strategies that really work for us, our home and daily life is much calmer than it used to be. It’s made all the difference in the world and I want the same for you and your family.  

WHAT ARE THE PRODUCTS INCLUDED?

  cleaning and chores bundle Cleaning & Chores
  • 2017 Motivated Moms Chore Planner by Susan Cramer ($9.00)
  • 30 Day Guide to a Clean and Organized Home  by Rachel Jones ($27.97)
  • Energy Budget: Time Management for the Chronically Ill (And Others With Long-Term Roadblocks) by Rachel Ramey ($78.00)
  • The Three Systems Every Family Needs by Saren Loosli ($24.00)
  decluttering bundle Decluttering
  • Chaos To Clutter-Free: 16 Realistic Steps To An Organized Home by Davonne Parks ($4.99)
  • Freed from Clutter: Declutter Course  by Becky Mansfield ($47.00)
  • Step-By-Step Decluttering: Your Guide To Less Stuff And An Uncluttered Home by Sarah Mueller ($15.00)
  family organization bundle Family Organization    
  • 30 Days To An Organized Life by Kimberlee Stokes ($9.00)
  • Home Management For The Homeschool Mom: Simplifying The Big Things So You Don’t Miss The Little Things by Amy Roberts ($9.99)
  • Home Organizing DIY Assessment Workbook by Andi Willis ($7.00)
  • Organizing For School Success Kit by Saren Loosli ($27.00)
  • Organizing Life As Mom by Jessica Fisher ($12.00)
  • Sanity Savers For Christian Moms: Simple Solutions For A More Joy-filled Life! by Kristi Clover ($5.99)
managing time bundle Managing Your Time    
  • 5 Days To A Better Morning by Crystal Paine ($2.99)
  • Mindspace: 10 Practices To Help You Let Go Of Mental Clutter And Make Room For More Joyful, Creative Living by Melissa Camara Wilkins ($9.99)
  • Never-Ending To-Do List: A One-Hour Solution for Busy Parents Who Want  Less Stress And More Fun by Kelly Holmes ($4.99)
  • Routine Cards by Rachel Norman ($6.00)
  • Spend Your Days: How to Control Time with Rocks, Bullets, Chisels, & a Boat by Tsh Oxenreider ($8.00)
  meal planning bundle Meal Planning
  • Meal Planning Made Easy by Kelly Smith ($7.95)
  • The Printable Recipe Binder Kit by Kalyn Brooke ($12.00)
  • The Ultimate Guide To Freezer Cooking by Crystal Barton ($10.00)
organizing bundle Organizing Paperwork & Digital Files
  • 10 Steps To Organizing Photos & Memorabilia by Lisa Woodruff ($3.95)
  • 2017 Budget Planner by Jessi Fearon ($19.97)
  • Evernote Essentials by Brett Kelly ($29.00)
  • Paperwork: Sorted! by Chrissy Halton ($12.39)
  • Spend Well Budgeting System: Printable Files To Help You Take Control Of Your Finances by Carrie Lindsey ($5.99)
  • The Sunday Basket: Weekly Paper Organizing & Planning by Lisa Woodruff ($7.95)
  • The Ultimate Unofficial Dropbox Guide by Jason Glaspey ($29.00)
planner bundle Planners
  • 2017 All Inclusive Binder by Mique Provost ($19.99)
  • 2017 Christmas Planner by Mandi Ehman ($4.00)
  • 2017 Homestead Management Printables by Quinn Veon ($8.99)
  • 2017 Thanksgiving Planner by Mandi Ehman ($3.00)
  • Homekeeping Foundations Kit: The Perfect DIY Homekeeping Binder Kit by Clean Mama ($20.00)
  • Homeschool Mom Life Binder by Heather Bowen ($19.99)
  • How To Create Your Own Printables by Laura Smith ($49.00)
  • Printable Planner Stickers by Rachael Wynn ($28.46)
  • The Home Management Binder & Family Planner by Helena Alkhas ($47.00)
  • Wanderlist: Your Travel Planning Toolkit by Kimberly Tate ($12.99)
     
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Need some accountability to actually get all this organizing DONE?  Shoot me an email after you've purchased the bundle and I'll add you to a private Facebook group where we will tackle this thing together!  (imperfecthomemaker@gmail.com)


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